Let’s be honest, you have to be in the right kind of mood to enjoy a campy creature romp like Zombeavers.
If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it mean all the people have already been killed by zombie beavers? The crafty, undead rodents in this streaming horror-comedy gem may prefer to gnaw through ankles (or jugulars), but they’ll also drop some timber on your head without a second thought. Following in the same self-aware, campy vein (and preposterous portmanteau) as Sharknado, Zombeavers is beyond stupid, and yet it’s more fun than a barrel of vampiric monkeys.
Shamelessly slathering on the teen horror tropes, we follow a trio of scantily clad young ladies up to a (wait for it) cabin in the woods. Unbeknownst to them, a truck hauling toxic waste lost one of its barrels when it hit a deer. That barrel ends up in the river, and if you’ve ever seen Return of the Living Dead Part II you already know that Barrel of Ooze + River = Zombies. Only this time, those evil, evil chemicals wind up trapped against a beaver dam. Meanwhile, the increasingly less-dressed girls decide to take a dip in the scummy water, become curious about the nearby beaver dam and meet a stern Ron Swanson-type outdoorsman packing a rifle. He scares away a curious bear and admonishes the ladies for showing so much skin while telling them to stay away from the beavers for some reason.
This opener admittedly drags, its intentional hokey-ness simply going on a bit too long. But then the boys arrive. Par-tay! Despite one of the girls being on the outs with her guy (hence the reason for the woodland getaway in the first place), all three boyfriends show up and prank the girls. Good thing they arrive, though, because a deranged beaver with glowing eyes soon appears in the cabin’s bathroom. One bloody (and unnaturally complicated) rodent death later and everything is hunky-dory again, so two-thirds of the group go screw. No matter that the dead beaver is missing from the front porch come morning.
Despite the (at-best) rabid beaver they just killed and then mysteriously lost, the group decides taking a swim next to the fluorescent green-splattered beaver dam is a capital idea. One of them gets a foot gnawed off and that puts the kibosh on the ass-grabbing hijinks. From there it’s full-on zombeaver apocalypse. Now I know what you’re probably thinking: if you get bitten by a zombie beaver, does that turn you into a zombie or a zombie beaver? Let’s just say that Zombeavers doesn’t mind dipping its toes into a little body horror.
This ridiculous flick opens with a bang as comedian Bill Burr and a disguised John Mayer (yes, that John Mayer) engage in an off-the-wall exchange as the drivers of the toxic sludge-hauling truck. From there, we have to endure the hammy acting and hackneyed melodrama inherent to teen horror that isn’t quite to the level of spoof, despite some corny zingers. Once the boys show up, we are treated to a Matthew Lillard-esque performance by Peter Gilroy, who plays the schlubby wise-guy and provides the film’s best lines—he’s the type of guy who shouts out “Oh god, I feel like a Power Ranger!” while in the throes of passion.
Zombeavers even manages to nip all the obvious “beaver” jokes in the bud. After we get a few groaners, one character actually tells everyone to cut it out. Meanwhile, the glowing-eyed undead rodents gather around the cabin like birds on an Alfred Hitchcock jungle gym. Of course, the only road out of town is blocked (Evil Dead-style) by a fallen tree. As the jock of the group gets brained by another gnawed-through trunk, the rest of the gang holes up in the cabin and boards the windows—just like Night of the Living Dead informed the holdouts of every subsequent zombie outbreak to do. That doesn’t last long, however, because it’s soon pointed out that “the whole point of a beaver is that it chomps wood!”
Let’s be honest, you have to be in the right kind of mood (or perhaps the on the right kind of substance) to enjoy a campy creature romp like Zombeavers. But as far as these ludicrous B-movies go, this is actually a pretty good one. The beavers themselves make for some gory fun, and are clearly not meant to be taken seriously as they look like something that belongs in The Princess Bride’s fire swamp. There are whack-a-mole moments as the beavers pop through the floorboards, a shrieking, blood-soaked girl jumps through a second-story window a la The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and the considerable gore is as hilarious as the expectation-subverting one-liners. (Insert “dam good time” pun here).